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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

NCI Senior Investigator Graubard Retires

Dr. Barry Graubard, senior investigator in the Biostatistics Branch (BB) of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics (DCEG) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), retired earlier this year.  

Throughout his career, Graubard focused on developing new statistical methodologies at the interface between biostatistics and survey sampling with a particular emphasis on cancer epidemiology, making fundamental contributions to the use of national population-based surveys to improve the representativeness of cohort, case-control, nested case-control and cross-sectional studies. These achievements have been internationally recognized through publication in the leading statistics journals and numerous awards.

In 1999, together with Dr. Edward Korn, a statistician in NCI’s Division of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment, Graubard published Analysis of Health Surveys, which remains the definitive textbook in the field. 

Graubard smiles over his left shoulder. He wears glasses and a light blue checkered shirt.

Dr. Barry Graubard

Graubard has had a major impact on the use of population-based survey analyses within DCEG to improve study inferences. In this regard, he collaborated with dozens of investigators across almost all branches. 

There are numerous examples of these successful partnerships, including the development of an absolute risk model for oropharyngeal cancer that is calibrated and validated to be representative of the U.S. population, the use of the accelerometer and mortality data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to show that increasing steps up to 8,000 per day substantially reduced mortality risk and an assessment of the effect of community immunity from the prophylactic human papillomavirus vaccine on rates of oral HPV infections among the unvaccinated U.S. population.  

Later in his career, Graubard made important contributions to assessing health disparities in a population-based setting, developing novel techniques to evaluate the fraction of observed differences between advantaged and disadvantaged groups that can be explained by known factors. These methods are providing the basis for future health disparities analyses in DCEG and across the epidemiology research community generally.  

Graubard has been an outstanding mentor to many current and former DCEG fellows. His former fellows hold prestigious appointments at major universities and at NIH—several in senior investigator roles. His dedication and excellence in mentoring have been acknowledged numerous times with the NCI Mentoring Award, the American Statistical Association (ASA) Mentoring Award and the ASA Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award that recognizes and encourages mentoring of junior staff in the statistical community in federal, state or local government.     

Before joining DCEG, Graubard had a long history of government service. In 1977, he began his career as a mathematical statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics, where he worked on network sampling methods to estimate prevalence of rare diseases and to estimate undercount in the 1980 census. 

In a research post at the Alcohol Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (now, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), he evaluated serum-based diagnostic testing methods to identify patterns of abusive alcohol drinking. In the Biometry Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, he worked on epidemiological studies of perinatal risk factors and adverse birth and early childhood outcomes.  

In 1990, Graubard was recruited to the Biometry Branch in NCI’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, where he led the development of statistical methods research to monitor tobacco consumption and smoking prevalence through time serial state-level sales data and the Current Population Survey for the evaluation of the NCI American Stop Smoking Intervention Study. In 1997, he was recruited to BB by Dr. Mitchell Gail, senior investigator.  

Graubard is a fellow of ASA and of the statistics section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Among his numerous awards are the ASA and Biometric Society Snedecor Award for Applied Statistical Research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Charles C. Shepard Science Award for Assessment and Epidemiology. 

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